In Review: Midnight Society: The Black Lake #3

The Midnight Society is a beautiful, thrilling swim into the world of the unexpected and strange.

The cover: In the foreground, Omega agent Matilda Finn’s head emerges out of Loch Ness, before her the unconscious body of Billy Wetherell. She needs to get him to safety because something deep in the Loch attacked them last issue…and it’s right behind them! Excellent imagery by series creator Drew Edward Johnson, with Lizzy John on colors. This teases the enormous creature that was glimpsed last issue, and it still continues to be elusive to completely be seen due to its size. Any reader would know that the lone yellow eye is determining whether to leave the pair alone or continue its assault. The coloring is also good, with the icky grey fishy flesh of the monster glazed over with streaks of white water and the humans highlighted so readers can see their peril. Well done. Overall grade: A 

The story: Matilda and Billy were attacked last issue by the Loch Ness Monster; their submarine destroyed by the creature’s jaws. Billy was wearing the only wetsuit, so Matilda’s fate seemed doomed. This issue, written by Drew Edward Johnson, opens on the shores of the Loch as Robbie McGrath, Chief of Inverness — Shire Constabulary, and Omega agent Tommy stand on the shore discussing the monster when their conversation is interrupted by an explosion on the water. They run to a local rescue boat and demand it start up, while Robbie tries to contact the science boat that went on the water. There’s no response. Before the ship’s engines turn over, Tommy orders everyone to stand down: this is a military operation and the chief must be contacted before anything is done. Robbie storms off the boat to light up a cancer stick to take the heat out of him, but Tommy’s lecturing about procedures don’t help. Neither does a second explosion on the water. Meanwhile, underwater, everything has changed. Lead character Matilda and Billy aren’t dead because she’s learned something about herself, something that will be exceedingly helpful in the water. It’s an amazing transformation and it really ramped up the tension because now they both have a fighting chance to escape; not a great chance, but at least one. During the action she begins to recall missing episodes from her past and they show why she can do what she’s now doing. I thought this was really cool and I loved the dialogue between her and another character that began on Page 21. Matilda learns her past and in the process what must be done with Nessie. This was a fun, supernatural read with lots of action and plenty of thrills. Overall grade: A

The art: Drew Edward Johnson is also the artist of this series and he’s got some tremendous talent. The first five pages tell readers that they’re going to be in for a visual treat. There’s nothing supernatural or unusual on these pages; just men trying to find out what’s going on atop the Loch. The characters’ faces are highly detailed, making each stand out on their own as unique individuals, rather than carbon copied figures with coloring changes. I really like Robbie; he’s got that classic local cop look, complete with overcoat, and every time his brow furrows or he strikes a match it’s like being transported to classic fiction. Under the water the visuals will amaze you. Matilda is much, much more than your typical supernatural heroine, as she demonstrates visually in this issue. I am very pleased with her design. Often characters that have the same ability are shown to be radically different from normal humans, but Johnson went in a direction I’ve not seen before (and I’ve read a lot of comics, so that’s saying something) and it works beautifully for what she has to do. I also really like the design of Nessie. This is not the friendly water horse that has been trickling in and out of various incarnations of late, but a fully enraged beast that is not to be trifled with. The flashback sequences are gorgeous — in fact, I’d be more than willing to have Johnson do an entire issue or series in this timeline with the same style and colors. It’s just brilliant. The chase sequence is fantastic and the dialogue pages just as thrilling. This is the visual punch that the story demands and Johnson commands both ably. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: I’ve been to Scotland at night. It’s not very bright. For a boy raised in the suburbs, it’s pitch black. Daniele Rudoni would be fully justified in making much of this “Black Lake” book ebony, for that’s the way it should be, but she wisely makes things just dark enough to give the reader the impression of blackness, but bright enough so that the terrific artwork by Johnson can be seen. I loved the yellow and brown colors used to age the paper that opens this issue, and it provides an excellent contrast for the night that it leads into. I love the pale violet clouds behind the characters on the shore and the bright orange used for sounds that rock the evening. I was also pleased to see yellow used for Matilda’s narration boxes: they stand out strongly from the dark sea, catching the eye of the reader before the art can be encountered. The coloring on Matilda’s new development is beautiful: the color is striking and it sets her apart from her murky setting instantly. Also lovely are the flashback sequences, which have been aged by Rudoni with colors to show their distance in the past. This coloring is terrific. Overall grade: A+

The letters: The fantastic chapter opening, dialogue and narration (the same font), sounds, and the tease for next issue are all created by Steve Dutro. I’m a big fan of fonts that look ancient and that’s exactly what Dutro has created on the first page — It looks great! The sounds are the real showpiece of the issue. I’m a big fan of monsters’ sounds being on the page and there are several instances where Nessie gets to make her voice heard and it’s spectacular. Overall grade: A 

The final line: The Midnight Society is a beautiful, thrilling swim into the world of the unexpected and strange. The water’s fine, even though the lake is a little black. It won’t kill you to take a dip. Recommended. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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